42 answers to “Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”. 42 years ago, on 24.04.1973, two events changed India: Birth of Sachin Tendulkar and “Pronouncement of ‘View of the Majority’ in Kesavananda“. Kesavananda Bench of 13 Judges was composed of CJ Sikri, Justices J.M. Shelat, K.S. Hegde, A.N. Grover, A.N. Ray, P. Jaganmohan Reddy, D.G. Palekar, H.R. Khanna, K.K. Mathew, M.H. Beg, S.N. Dwivedi, A.K. Mukherjea and Y.V. Chandrachud. Six ‘Sikri-Led’ Judges held, Amending Power was limited by various inherent and implied limitations in Constitution. Six others held, there were no limitations on Amending Power of Parliament. One Judge, Justice H.R. Khanna expressly rejected view of Six ‘Sikri-Led’ Judges. Justice Khanna held, Amending Power was plenary in every sense, but word ‘Amendment’ in Article 368, by its limited connotation, did not lend itself to abrogating Constitution. Amendment to Constitution had necessarily to retain “Basic Structure of Constitution” after Amendment. That was only Justice Khanna’s conclusion. How then can it be said that Kesavananda was decided by a ‘View of the Majority‘ of Nine Judges saying, Amending Power of Parliament was limited by “Basic Structure of Constitution”?
42 years ago, on this day, it had been a day since Justice A.N. Ray has been sworn in as Chief Justice of India No. 14. Friday. There were 200 more Fridays before CJI Ray retired on 28.01.1977 – Friday. And on 25.12.2010, 34 days short of completing 34 years of retirement, year I start ‘practice’, he was 99. Unbeaten.
“History is the cruelest judge and Justice Ray will be remembered as having presided over the Supreme Court during its darkest period” (See, Nani Palkhivala: The Courtroom Genius, 2012, pg. 152).
Post Script: 25 April, 1973